Ode to a Tiger Mother

I’m sure you all heard plenty about Amy Chua and her controversial article in the Wall Street Journal. If you haven’t yet, take a look:

Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior

My mom isn’t Chinese but Amy goes on to explain in the article that this isn’t about race but about a type of parenting. It’s the type of parenting I grew up with until about high school. My mom was super strict. I remember my mom mostly yelling at me and my brother growing up. There was the demand for A’s and I was made to take piano lessons starting in 3rd grade. The only times my mom didn’t yell at us were when we were at church or when I brought home good grades.

Things got better in high school. I think it’s because my older brother eased the road for me by being the rebel. He was forced to take summer school and PSAT and SAT prep classes. He ended up skipping most of them and his SAT score was something like 200 points lower than his PSAT score… So my mom had me just buy a book and study on my own!

I also quit playing the piano in 9th grade. I remember telling her before high school started that I wasn’t going to do it anymore. I think she didn’t talk to me for about a month! Even many years later, if she found me sitting on the piano bench she’d tell me to not sit there if I wasn’t going to play the piano. Dannggg!

It took me quite a few years to realize why my mom pushed me and my brother so hard. In 1976 my parents decided to pack up their things in order to move to a new country where they didn’t speak the language and didn’t get the culture. They did it to give me and my brother a better chance at an education and a future. I can’t imagine moving to a foreign country with two young children. Craziness.

She went through a lot. My parents split up when I was in high school and she put two kids through college by herself. She went through a couple of near-death experiences but is now healthy, in NJ, with a new dog.

Having a Tiger Mother isn’t all bad. I appreciate the strictness now even though I hated it growing up. She moved us to an amazing town with great schools and that propelled me to college and the career I have now. I’m grateful – really I am. Even though she never got us the dog she promised or ever took us to Disneyland or Disney World. *sigh*


About franknam

Just a boy in a world trying to do good, teach others, laugh, and eat tasty food. I dig snowboarding, the PacNW, all things NYC, ultimate frisbee, and anything well-made.
This entry was posted in Asian-American, Childhood, NYC, Warm & Fuzzy and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Ode to a Tiger Mother

  1. Pingback: Forty x 40 | A Change is Gonna Come

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